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Archive: Sunday Old School Columns

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Sunday Old School: Coroner

Many are under the misnomer that Coroner got it's start as Celtic Frost's roadies, but that's not entirely true. Coroner had been an established band a couple of years before they served as Celtic Frost's road crew on a U.S. tour. Coroner went on this tour of America as a way of promoting it's "Death Cult" demo in the U.S. back in 1986, and Tom G. Warrior even sang on it. When it came time to release their debut, "RIP," Tom once again offered to do vocal duties. By then, Coroner had bassist Ron "Royce" Broder assume the vocals as well. Ron had never sang before and even surprised himself with how well he rose to the occasion. More...

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Sunday Old School: Bon Jovi

Discuss New Jersey rock and roll and many think Bruce Springsteen; however, Bon Jovi has built quite a reputation themselves. With over 130 million albums sold, the boys from Sayreville, NJ continue to change up their sound and are making a run at "the boss" for notoriety in the Garden State.

The original band has been together since their first studio album (one exception being a change at bass in '94). The initial line-up was led by lead singer Jon Bon Jovi (who shortened his name from John Francis Bongiovi, Jr.), guitarist Richie Sambora, bassist Alec John Such, keyboardist David Bryan, and drummer Tico Torres. The initial thought when looking at this band was not that they had a lot of hair, but that they were also very pretty and smiling at the camera -- unlike the scowls of David Lee Roth, Nikki Sixx, and Stephen Pearcy, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were just a couple of guys with a hardhat mentality and hair most women would kill for. Was it just me or did David Bryan actually have better hair than Jon? Just me... okay. Anyway it is quite preposterous to think that the keyboardist would have better hair than the lead singer. Moving on...

The first album, their self titled debut from 1984, featured a single titled "Runaway" that displayed Jon Bon Jovi wearing either leggings or bandanas around his ankles. This video was also the beginning of the rise of Jon Bon Jovi's hair, something that would peak during the second course of "Livin' On A Prayer." In 1985 they put out their second album, "7800 Fahrenheit," an album with "In and Out of Love," a song showing arena anthem potential complete with a live video showing the world how much fun you can have at a Bon Jovi concert. The first album showed potential and gave hope of the band becoming a hit, but the second album didn't blow up, instead steadily building on the first album, if nothing else, an example of a band working hard to create music and tour to support. This hardest working band mantra would last from their start through present day. Of course, they would get a break, which changed everything in 1986. More...

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Sunday Old School: Life Of Agony

Alternative metal is probably the loosest tag of any metal sub-genre, which is what makes it so alternative I suppose. Nevertheless, today Sunday Old School looks at Life Of Agony, an alternative metal band from Brooklyn, New York. Life Of Agony was formed in 1989 by singer Keith Caputo, guitarist Joey Z and bass player Alan Robert, who went through a number of drummers before settling with Sal Abruscato, a founding member of the gothic metal band, Type O Negative. The group slogged it out for four years before signing a record deal with Roadrunner, who were also home to Type O Negative. Through the label, the band released their debut album, "River Runs Red" in October of 1993. The album was critically praised and in time has become known as one of the finest records in the entire Roadrunner catalogue, gaining popularity through singles such as, "This Time" and "Through And Through."

A more emotional direction was employed on the group’s next studio album, "Ugly," which was released in 1995. The album was once again highly praised and was notable for featuring a cover of the Simple Minds hit, "Don’t You (Forget About Me,)" as well as a cover of Bob Marley’s, "Redemption Song" on the special edition of the album. Shortly after "Ugly’s" release, Abruscato announced that he was leaving the band and was replaced by Dan Richardson, formerly of the bands Pro-Pain and Crumbsuckers. With their new drummer in tow, Life Of Agony recorded and released their third album, "Soul Searching Sun" in 1997, but were dealt a major blow when Caputo announced his resignation from the group, claiming his heart was no longer in to the type of music Life Of Agony wrote. The band soldiered on, initially recruiting former Ugly Kid Joe vocalist Whitfield Crane, but parted company with the singer when they began working on a new album. After toying with the idea of Robert switching to vocals and guitar and bringing in Stuck Mojo bassist Corey Lowery, Life Of Agony decided to simply call it a day, feeling that the band couldn’t continue properly without Caputo. More...

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Sunday Old School: Exodus

This past October Sunday Old School looked at British doom metal band, Electric Wizard. In the introduction, I stated that some bands are essential to a genres fan base, the first example being California thrashers, Exodus. So this week we’re going to examine the band in greater detail and see just how important to the thrash metal scene Exodus really are. The band was formed in Richmond, California by guitarists Kirk Hammett and Tim Agnello in 1981, along with drummer Tom Hunting, vocalist Keith Stewart and bassist Carlton Melson, who was soon replaced by Jeff Andrews, with Agnello leaving shortly afterwards to become a minister, leaving the second guitarist spot to be filled by guitar tech, Gary Holt. More departures would soon follow, with the band deciding to replace Stewart with their eccentric friend, Paul Baloff and Jeff Andrews departing after the band recorded their first demo to form an early version of Possessed and most notably, founding member Hammett leaving to join Metallica, who were just about to record their debut album, "Kill ‘em All" in New York. With Hammett now replaced by Rick Hunolt, the band began recording their debut album, "Bonded By Blood," which despite taking over a year to release due to business issues, proved to be well worth the wait, as it has since been hailed as one of the most influential thrash metal albums of all time.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback Exodus received for "Bonded By Blood," they decided to fire Baloff as he was too much for them to handle and replaced him with Legacy frontman Steve "Zetro" Souza. This lineup of the band proved to be stable to some degree, and they released their second album, "Pleasures Of The Flesh" in 1987 which entered the Billboard charts at number 82, a position which was matched by the third Exodus album, "Fabulous Disaster." This album featured the song, "Toxic Waltz" which received regular rotation on the MTV show, Headbanger’s Ball, ultimately proving to be one of the most popular Exodus songs. Tom Hunting left the band after the release of "Fabulous Disaster" but they took a big step by signing with major label, Capitol Records, who housed fellow Californian thrashers, Megadeth at the time. The resulting fourth album, "Impact Is Imminent" received very negative feedback and after a live album, "Good Friendly Violent Fun" and another album, "Force Of Habit" in 1992, which saw the band experiment with their sound, they decided to call it a day, reuniting with Baloff briefly in 1997 for a live album entitled, "Another Lesson In Violence" before breaking up again. More...

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Sunday Old School: Artillery

It is always so unfair when you see mediocre and lackluster bands becoming hugely popular and selling millions of albums, especially when a band with overwhelming talent gets the shaft and never realizes it's true potential. But I learned a long time ago that life was never meant to be fair, and not a better example of this exists in the annals of metal than the story of Artillery. Formed in 1982 in Taastrup, Denmark - this band came along at the beginning of thrash metal and was one of a very small handful of bands that pioneered the technical metal genre. They were ahead of the times, and sadly still fly under the radar in terms of recognition within the metal community. The old schoolers and metal elitists know and recognize them for what they are, though - perhaps the greatest and most technical thrash band of all time. More...

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Sunday Old School: Pantera

It’s very close to that time of year again when metal fans all over the world pay their tributes to Dimebag Darrell Abbott, the legendary guitarist from Pantera who was murdered on stage on December 8th, 2004 while performing with his post-Pantera band, Damageplan. To understand why his death is so important to metal fans, it’s best to start, as all legends do, at the beginning. Darrell formed Pantera thirty years ago with his brother Vinnie Paul, along with guitarist Terry Glaze, vocalist Donnie Hart and bass player Tommy Bradford. Hart and Bradford left the group the same year, with the latter being replaced by Rex Brown, while the rest of the group decided that Darrell would be the bands sole guitar player. They soon became an underground favorite, touring throughout their native Texas, as well as Oklahoma and Louisiana, and supporting the likes of Quiet Riot and Dokken.

In 1983, the band released debut album, "Metal Magic" through its own record label of the same name with a second album, "Projects In The Jungle" following the next year. Both albums were very much in the glam metal vein but the second demonstrated the first hint of thrash metal influences, a style which was embellished on the third album, "I Am The Night."

Thrash metal soon crept its way into Pantera's sound permanently however, leading the group to part ways with Glaze and search for a more aggressive vocalist, which was found in New Orleans native, Phil Anselmo. With Anselmo, Pantera recorded the fourth album, "Power Metal," a hybrid of thrash metal and the popular hard rock style of the time. Following this release, Pantera decided to radically reinvent itself, shedding the big hair and make up the group had previously adorned and soon gained itself a manager in Walter O’ Brien, with a record deal coming shortly afterwards with Atco Records.

Despite now being considered something of a debut album for the band, the fifth album, "Cowboys From Hell" was released in 1990 and was instantly a hit with fans of the heavier side of metal, as well as some of their heroes such as Judas Priest and Slayer. It was certainly a breath of fresh air at the time, varied in sound but fluent, songs like the pummeling title track were just as much a part of the band's sound as the haunting epic, "Cemetery Gates." The band toured heavily to support the album, taking to the road with such respected acts as Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies and even earning a slot on the Monsters In Moscow festival with the likes of AC/DC and Metallica, in what was still the Soviet Union. More...

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Sunday Old School: L.A. Guns

If you lived in Southern California during 1983 to present day there is a very good chance you have played for a band named L.A. Guns. I demand a VH1 Classic documentary on this phenomenon. I already have the title: "Eight is Enough: The story of nine albums and eight lead singers.”

This is the story of L.A. Guns.

To start we need to get the administrative part out of the way. Instead of populating every other sentence with a line-up change, here we go.

We will refer to the “Classic Line Up” of L.A. Guns as Phil Lewis, Tracii Guns, Mick Cripps, Kelly Nickels, Steve Riley. The “Steve Riley L.A. Guns” a.k.a. L.A. Guns #1 as Phil Lewis, Stacey Blades, Scott Griffin, Steve Riley and the “Tracii Guns L.A. Guns” a.k.a. L.A. Guns #2 as Jizzy Pearl, Tracii Guns, Doni Gray, Jeremy Guns. Recently Jizzy Pearl has left Tracii’s version of L.A. Guns, being replaced by Dilana Robichaux. So now the story is “Nine Lives: Nine albums, nine lead singers”.

Need a comprehensive list of lead singers? Why not, here they are: Phil Lewis, Jizzy pearl, Paul Black, Axl Rose, Michael Jagosz, Chris Van Dahl, Ralph Saenz, Marty Casey.

And finally other members (non lead singers) that at one time were members of L.A. Guns: Nickey Alexander, Ole Beich, Rob Gardner, Robert Stoddard, Michael Gershima, Johnny Crypt, Brent Muscat, Muddy, Keff Ratcliffe, Adam Hamilton, Keri Kelli, Scott Griffin, Kenny Kweens, Chad Stewart, Alec Bauer, Danny Nordahl.

Push the paper to the side and let’s see if we can figure out how this band bio grew to the size of a phone book. More...

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Sunday Old School: Faith No More

Some bands are just so eclectic, it’s practically impossible to label them. Everyone likes these bands because their music is always guaranteed to be interesting, and none of these such bands are more intriguing than Faith No More. Faith No More began life thirty years ago when it was founded by bass player Billy Gould in 1981, along with drummer Mike Bordin, vocalist Michael Morris and keyboard player Wade Worthington. They did not adopt their current moniker until 1982 after Worthington had been replaced by Roddy Bottum and Morris had been fired, leading the band to through a series of vocalists, including future Hole frontwoman Courtney Love, before settling on Chuck Mosley in 1983, the same year they found guitarist Jim Martin.

They began recording their debut album independently, pooling their money together and recording it as and when they could. By the time five songs had been recorded, the group earned the attention of Mordam Records, who signed the band and gave them the money they needed to finish their album, which was released in 1985 under the title, "We Care A Lot." Faith No More then signed with Slash Records, and released "Introduce Yourself" in 1987, which, despite the release of "We Care A Lot" two years prior, is considered by many to be the bands debut album, owing to the limited availability of the previous record and the re-recording of its title track.

Not long after "Introduce Yourself," Mosley was fired from the group, due to erratic behaviour on and off the stage, including falling asleep during the "Introduce Yourself" release party. Taking his place was Mr. Bungle frontman, Mike Patton, who dropped out of Humboldt State University so he could sing for Faith No More. They released their first album with Patton, "The Real Thing" in 1989 and broke through into the public eye in the process, thanks largely to the records second single, "Epic" which became a top ten hit around the world. They performed live at the MTV Video Music Awards and Saturday Night Live, as well as touring all over the world. After releasing a live album, "Live at the Brixton Academy" in 1991 and contributing the song, "The Perfect Crime" to the soundtrack of the movie, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (in which guitarist Jim Martin made a cameo appearance,) the band got to work on their next album. The result, "Angel Dust," was released in the summer of 1992 and featured a much more experimental tone than previous releases, thanks predominantly to Mike Patton. Despite selling well over six hundred thousand copies in the United States, the album sold better overseas, going Gold in Australia and reaching the number 2 position on the album chart in the United Kingdom. More...

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Sunday Old School: Piledriver

Take yourself back in time almost three decades - the year was 1985, only a scant couple of years after a few record labels were issuing independent metal stateside. The commercial bands were starting to get upstaged by these new groups that had this harder and heavier sound. This little known band Thrust put out this song "Posers Will Die" which became sort of a mantra for the new movement. Listeners wanted an alternative to commercial metal, and along comes this album "Metal Inquisition" by a Canadian band named Piledriver. The album cover alone was enough to have you laughing your ass off. The vocalist was this giant dude with spikes, leather and bondage gear plastered all over his body. He was wielding a v-neck guitar like a jackhammer into some young metalhead kid's skull. But what was truly classic was the actual record itself, which contained a track listing of songs that held up to the test of time and are still listened to today. It was the perfect combination of a thrashing power metal sound. More...

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Sunday Old School: Possessed

Death metal is without question one of the most popular sub-genres in heavy metal, with thousands of bands emulating the likes of Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and the like, but there was a band before the Florida based legends came along which pioneered, and some say invented death metal itself. Namely, San Francisco based, Possessed. Possessed was formed in 1983 by guitarist Mike Torraro and drummer Mike Sus, along with bass player Geoff Andrews and vocalist Barry Fisk. This original lineup was not to last long, and ended in tragic fashion when Fisk, who was homeless at the time, shot himself in front of his girlfriend, resulting in Andrews no longer wanting to be a part of the group. The group soon picked themselves up when they recruited Jeff Becerra from the Pinole based band Blizzard to handle both bass and vocal duties, as well as hiring another guitarist in the form of Brian Montana. Possessed got to work spreading their name in the Bay Area scene, performing with local titans such as Slayer and Exodus, the latter of which helped Possessed immensely when they gave the band’s three song demo, "Death Metal" to Metal Blade Records head, Brian Slagel.

Slagel agreed to put Possessed on his forthcoming compilation album, Metal Massacre 6, the same series of compilations that had previously helped Slayer and Metallica become noticed, including the song, "Swing Of The Axe" on the record. Metal Blade did not sign the group but the compilation found it’s way to Combat Records, home to such acts as Megadeth. Combat were able to sign Possessed, who had since replaced Montana with Becerra’s former Blizzard bandmate Larry LaLonde and in October of 1985, the band released it’s debut full length album, "Seven Churches" through the label, with Roadrunner Records handling European distribution. The album was an underground hit, owing to Becerra’s guttural vocals (something quite different for metal at the time) and it’s extreme lyrics which, along with frequent use of the word, "fuck," led to it becoming one of the first albums to receive the famous RIAA "Parental Advisory" sticker. It impacted many burgeoning musicians including Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris, who claimed that "Seven Churches" was his introduction to metal, and Death frontman Chuck Schuldiner, who reportedly told his bandmates that he wanted the band to base their sound on the album. More...

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Sunday Old School: Dokken

In 1978 the band Dokken formed, it was soon after the band was composed of Don Dokken (vocals), George Lynch (guitar), Juan Croucier (bass), and Mick Brown (drums). They were wide-eyed and ready to rock, still there was no way anyone could predict a Grammy nomination, die-hard fans, and the Ultimate Warrior style armbands. More...

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Sunday Old School: Therapy?

So far this year in Sunday Old School, we’ve covered bands from a variety of places including Switzerland, Australia, Norway and Japan, as well as the expected English and American groups, but we have yet to look at a band from the Emerald Isle. This week we’ll be rectifying this by taking a gander at the Northern Irish alternative metal/rock band, Therapy? The seeds of the band were sewn in 1989 when guitarist Andy Cairns spotted drummer Fyfe Ewing performing in a punk rock band at a local charity gig. The two began talking after the show and soon recorded a demo tape, with Cairns also handling the bass duties, having borrowed the instrument from Michael McKeegan, a classmate of Ewing’s who was officially recruited into the band when they decided to begin performing live. After releasing their first single, "Meat Abstract" in July of 1990, Therapy? soon attracted the attention of legendary British disc jockey, John Peel and took slots supporting a variety of bands, including Madchester outfit Inspiral Carpets and Ian Mackeye’s post-Minor Threat band, Fugazi amongst others. After these accomplishments, they signed with independent record label, Wiiija, through which they released their first two albums, "Babyteeth" and "Pleasure Death."

The two albums were enough to secure the group a new record deal with major label, A&M and soon afterwards, the band found their first taste of commercial success when they released, "Nurse" in November 1992, which was able to reach the Top 40 in the U.K. Album Charts, thanks largely to the single, "Teethgrinder," which entered the Top 40 in the Singles Charts. They then scored a string of successful EPs including, "Shortsharpshock," which featured the song, "Screamager," perhaps the best known Therapy? song and one which incorporated the feelings of teenage emotions as brilliantly as their fellow Northern Irishmen, The Undertones had done fifteen years prior with, "Teenage Kicks," albeit in a much darker fashion. Following two more successful EPs in "Face The Strange" and "Opal Mantra," the group released, "Troublegum," their biggest album to date, in February 1994. "Troublegum" featured no less than six singles including the Joy Division cover, "Isolation," which had two different videos made to promote it. The popularity of the record led the band to a Kerrang! Award and a Mercury Prize nomination. More...

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Sunday Old School: Pungent Stench

Possibly one of the most darkly humorous bands from the old school, Pungent Stench traces it's roots back to 1988 when former members of Carnage came together to create this sick and twisted group. These "tres hombres," as the three members Martin Schirenc (El Cochino) on vocals and guitar, El Gore on bass and Alex Wank on drums referred to themselves as, became the flagbearers for extreme warped metal in the early nineties. After a demo and a split EP with fellow Austrians the Disharmonic Orchestra in 1989, Pungent Stench unleashed it's "Extreme Deformity" 7" and the classic debut "For God Your Soul...For Me Your Flesh." The time was 1990, a year that also saw them put out one of a couple split 7"s with Nuclear Blast labelmates Benediction. (A band that Alex Wank never minded sharing vinyl space with, since he deemed them the only other group on the label that vaguely resembled them.) This album took the underground by storm with it's deranged groovy death beat songs like "Dead Body Love" and "Embalmed In Sulphuric Acid." This was back in the time when not many bands were recording extreme metal. More...

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Sunday Old School: Electric Wizard

Some bands are almost essential to their respective genres. If one likes thrash metal, there's a better chance than not that the same person will be an Exodus fan. If one likes grindcore, it's extremely likely they will also be a fan of Napalm Death and if one is a fan of doom metal, it's safe to say that Electric Wizard is somewhere in their CD collection. Rightfully so too, as they have released some of the best tunes not only in doom, but all of heavy metal. The band was formed in the market town of Wimborne, Dorset in 1993 by guitarist Jus Oborn after he left the band Eternal, joined in the venture by bass player Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening. After slugging it out in the live scene for two years, Electric Wizard were able to bag themselves a record deal with Rise Above Records, the label owned by Cathedral frontman Lee Dorrian. They soon released their self-titled, debut album which followed the traditional doom metal style, but was met with many positive reviews. They followed the record shortly afterwards by releasing, "Demon Lung," a split single which was shared with a band named, Our Haunted Kingdom, who themselves have now become a stoner metal favourite, though they are more recognised by their current name, Orange Goblin.

In January 1997, the group marked a milestone in their career when they released their second album, "Come My Fanatics..." which is today considered one of the best albums in the history of doom metal. "Fanatics..." was also labeled by many as one of the heaviest albums released in the 1990s and was followed by a slew of singles and EPs. This time of the band was not met without controversy. Guitarist and singer Oborn was arrested for possession of cannabis, as well as encountering health issues when he was hit by a collapsed eardrum and severed a fingertip in a DIY accident. Oborn was not the only member to have a run in with the law, as Bagshaw was arrested for armed robbery and Greening also found himself in trouble after he was charged with assaulting a police officer. Nevertheless, Electric Wizard arguably outdid themselves in the year 2000 when they released their third album, "Dopethrone." "Dopethrone" was instantly hailed as a masterpiece, with many today ranking it as one of, and in the case of Terrorizer magazine, the best album of the 2000s. The record saw the band adopt a more aggressive tone, leaving behind some of their psychedelic sounds in the process. More...

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Sunday Old School: Machine Head

Who says gang violence is restricted to rap music? If it weren’t for a fight between a local gang and Californian thrash metal band Vio-Lence, we may have never heard Machine Head, for it was this incident that inspired guitarist Robb Flynn to leave the group and form one of his own. Joining forces with bassist Adam Duce, drummer Tony Costanza and Canadian guitar player Logan Mader, the collective soon named themselves, Machine Head simply because, as Flynn states, "It sounded cool." Before long, they found themselves signed to Roadrunner Records, after a label representative heard the band’s demo tape which had been recorded in a friend’s bedroom. Costanza was soon replaced by Chris Kontos and Machine Head recorded their first album, "Burn My Eyes." The album was a success, reaching the top forty in albums charts in such countries as Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom and selling over 400,000 copies, a record for Roadrunner at the time. After supporting Slayer in Europe, the band found that they had become popular enough to head back to the continent and headline the same venues for themselves.

Following the tours, the group once again replaced the man behind the drum kit, this time bringing in German drummer Dave McClain, who had spent some time with American thrashers Sacred Reich. This new formation gave birth to Machine Head’s sophomore album, "The More Things Change," which was released in 1997 and entered the Billboard album charts at number 138. Machine Head then had the honour of participating in the first Ozzfest tour, during which they fired Mader after a backstage incident, replacing him with Ahrue Luster. They followed "The More Things Change" with perhaps their most controversial album to date, "The Burning Red." The record polarised critics and fans alike, who were unsure at best about certain musical aspects, including rapping vocals and an image change which saw some ridiculous outfits and hair cuts. Despite these factors, the album is currently the band’s second highest seller in the United States and the album’s inclusion of "Message In A Bottle" (originally by The Police) is considered by many to be one of the best versions of the song.

The criticism continued when the band released, "Supercharger" on October 2nd 2001. Musically, it was a continuation of "The Burning Red" and resulted in a feud between the band and Slayer guitarist Kerry King, who claimed after the album’s release that Machine Head had sold out. Although it sold quite well, the "Supercharger" years weren’t too kind to the band either, as the promotional video for the song, "Crashing Around You" was banned by radio stations owing to the recent 9/11 attacks, it was for this same reason that the music video for the song was also banned from being aired on MTV. The group took exception to this and left Roadrunner Records, touring in support of the album by their own means and without the support from a record label. The tour produced the live album, "Hellalive," which was released through Roadrunner to fulfil a contractual obligation. They then suffered another blow when Luster left the group, joining Ill Nino soon after. Machine Head were unable to attract any interest from other record labels in the United States, but were still signed to Roadrunner in Europe, through which they released their fifth album, "Through The Ashes Of Empires," now with new guitarist (and Vio-lence founder and long time friend of Flynn) Phil Demmel in tow. More...

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Sunday Old School: Poison

In 1985, Bret Michaels (vocals), Rikki Rockett (drums), Bobby Dall (bass), and Matt Smith (guitar) set out for the Los Angeles Sunset Strip, determined to make it as the next big hair band. Initially, the band struggled to survive; Matt Smith specifically couldn't handle the poverty and left for back East. During this time Bret Michaels states that his only possession was a toothbrush. Behind The Music: One Toothbrush and Six Bandanas -- The Bret Michaels Story.

With Smith's departure, the band started looking for a new guitarist. In the end their search came down to C.C. DeVille and Slash. Slash was clearly the better guitar player, but C.C. had that over the top glam look the band coveted. This decision would end up being one of the most significant events in eighties heavy metal music. Not only was C.C. the right pick for Poison, but not taking Slash off the market proved to be more important, keeping the door open for him to join Guns N' Roses just months later.

The release of their first album, "Look What The Cat Dragged In," would introduce the world to this glam foursome. The cover would also lead to several debates. First, were these in fact men? After establishing that yes, in fact, these are men, the discussion would turn to which was the prettiest of the group? Most of the time it was Rikki Rockett edging out Bret Michaels in the beauty contest. I believe the amount of eye shadow Rikki used had a direct impact on this outcome. Often lost in judging this book by its cover was how hard the band worked to promote their shows and the dedication to their fans. They were the second wave of “hair bands” and there were hundreds trying to be part of this group. The foursome was relentless in getting friends, fans, and others to attend their shows and promote Poison. More...

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Sunday Old School: The Mentors

One of the crazier bands to grace the LA metal scene in the mid-eighties was the legendary trio the Mentors. While gaining their fame in that city, what many may not realize is that the band got it's start in 1976 right out of Roosevelt High School in Seattle. Eldon Hoke, Eric Carlson and Steve Broy relocated to LA in 1979 and quickly became a fixture in the club scene at the height of the punk rock era, and a voice to counter the beginnings of the glam/hair metal movement. Figuring they had a better chance for fame in LA, they moved the band and the roadies into a one bedroom Hollywood apartment. Changing their stage names to El Duce, Sickie Wifebeater and Dr. Heathen Scum respectively, they were ready to launch an all-out assault on traditional metal as we know it. Combining thrash, garage and punk, they developed a huge core audience with their irreverent, misogynistic lyrics delivered in that nice sloppy style that never pretended to be good serious metal. When hair metal bands in spandex were singing about what the cat dragged in, here came three slovenly dudes with beer bellies and t-shirts singing about their secretary hump. More...

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Sunday Old School: AC/DC, The Brian Johnson Years

Last year when I wrote a Sunday Old School column to commemorate the 30th anniversary of frontman Bon Scott's passing, I asked readers to close their eyes and think of AC/DC. As I wrote back then, “If you're like most people, the first thing that enters your mind is the image of Angus Young in his schoolboy suit doing his Chuck Berry on speed duckwalk across the stage. The second thing for most is the image of singer Brian Johnson, cap pulled down nearly to his eyes, letting loose with a powerdrill wail.”

To be sure, part of the reason for that is the longevity of Johnson's tenure with the band. Scott's career with AC/DC lasted a mere six years, while Johnson's been with the band for 30 years and counting. But chalking it up to that alone discounts Johnson's skill as a vocalist, lyricist and frontman in his own right. The fact of the matter is that had Brian not been as adept as he was in taking over for Bon, the lights could've been permanently put out for AC/DC three decades ago. In fact, in the book “AC/DC: Maximum Rock 'N Roll,” there are several statements pointing to the fact that but for Brian, the band never would've taken off as it did in the United States in the 1980s. After all, the band had failed to catch fire supporting acts like Kiss, Aerosmith and Lynrd Skynrd during Bon's tenure.

Also, Brian brought a level of consistency that perhaps hadn't quite been there before. One could argue that he was less of a dynamic showman than Bon was — though in recent tours he's come out of his shell a lot more. At the same time, Bon was much less consistent in terms of vocal delivery. Even Angus admitted such in an interview, saying that Bon's vocal style was much more a matter of rhythm, where Brian's vocals were much more like a musical instrument in their own right.

Prior to his AC/DC gig, Brian was best known as the lead singer of the English glam rock band Geordie. In the early 1970s, Bon Scott's pre-AC/DC outfit Fang toured England, playing with Geordie. With a singing style reminiscent of Little Richard, Johnson had impressed Scott, who later told the rest of AC/DC of a particular show in which Johnson was shrieking and thrashing about on the ground. Scott believed it was all part of the show. In fact, Johnson was in agony from appendicitis.

"Geordie: She's a Teaser"
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Sunday Old School: Godflesh

Back in December 2009, Sunday Old School covered Napalm Death, one of the most influential bands in the history of extreme music. In some respects, we never stopped looking at them, as the column has covered several bands with ties to Napalm Death, namely, Cathedral, Carcass, Extreme Noise Terror and most recently, Terrorizer. Today will see a continuation of this trend, as Sunday Old School looks at Godflesh, one of the most innovative metal bands to ever emerge from Great Britain.

Godflesh was initially birthed as Fall Of Because in 1985 in the city of Birmingham by bass player G.C. Green and guitarist Paul Neville, with Justin Broadrick joining the ranks soon afterwards as a drummer and vocalist, though he would leave soon after to become the new guitarist for Napalm Death, making his recording debut with the band on the A-side of the classic, "Scum" album. Broadrick would leave Napalm Death soon after to become the drummer for Head Of David, one his favourite local bands, but once again remained unsettled and soon contacted Green about reforming Fall Of Because, an invitation Green accepted. Fall Of Because soon became Godflesh and the duo of Broadrick and Green decided to stay as such, incorporating the use of a drum machine instead of hiring someone to sit behind the kit. More...

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Sunday Old School: Cinderella

While most rock bands cite blues music as an influence, Cinderella was one of the few bands from the eighties where you could actually hear it, feel it, taste it.

The band was formed with members Tom Keifer (singer, keyboards, guitar), Eric Brittingham (bass), Michael Smerick (guitar) and Tony Destra (drums). Within two years Destra and Smerick left to form Britny Fox. Using eighties 20-20 hindsight: MISTAKE? I’m sure hanging with the girls while making the video for “Girlschool” had to be a great day it still can’t compare to being in what would become Cinderella.

In 1985 Cinderella recorded their first album, “Night Songs,” with guitarist Jeff LaBar and drummer Jim Drnec. After recording the album, Fred Coury replaced Drnec and joined the band for the supporting tour. The first single, “Shake Me,” from the album featured a girl sitting on her bed with a Cinderella poster behind her. Her wicked (READ: slutty) sisters appear and are off to rock and roll (READ: shoot heroin and sleep with rock guys) while she is left all alone. Then the poster comes alive and she is now at a live Cinderella concert. It should be mentioned that Tom Keifer is wearing the Paul Stanley 1984 permanent hair style throughout the song. When I’m running VH1 someday I will definitely do a WHERE ARE THEY NOW documentary on the Cinderella wicked sisters. More...

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